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Published: 2024-03-08

Malaria research in Umeå wins Hirsch Prize from Karolinska Institute

NEWS Oliver Billker, Department of Molecular Biology, is awarded the Medicine Doctor Axel Hirsch prize 2024 for his research in the field of malaria.

Text: Ola Nilsson

The Axel Hirsch prize 2024 is awarded to prof. Oliver Billker for his pioneering and important work to understand the genetics, pathogenesis and host/vector interactions of malaria parasites, reads the motivation from the Faculty of Medicine at Karolinska Institute.

Oliver Billker is very happy to be recognised and stresses that research is a team effort.

"Malaria remains a huge problem that only gets a fraction of the attention of other infectious diseases. Understanding how the parasites that cause malaria get transmitted by mosquitoes is important to block their spread. I am glad that through the genetic tools we developed over the years it has been possible to increase the rate at which new discoveries are possible," he says.

The three studies selected to represent the work of Oliver Billker are:

  • Mosquito cellular immunity at single-cell resolution. Raddi G, Barletta ABF, Efremova M, Ramirez JL, Cantera R, Teichmann SA, Barillas-Mury C, Billker O. Science. 2020. 369(6507):1128-1132.
  • Inducible developmental reprogramming redefines commitment to sexual development in the malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. Kent RS, Modrzynska KK, Cameron R, Philip N, Billker O*, Waters AP*. Nat Microbiol. 2018. 3(11):1206-1213. *Equal contribution.

  • Functional Profiling of a Plasmodium Genome Reveals an Abundance of Essential Genes. Bushell E, Gomes AR, Sanderson T, Anar B, Girling G, Herd C, Metcalf T, Modrzynska K, Schwach F, Martin RE, Mather MW, McFadden GI, Parts L, Rutledge GG, Vaidya AB, Wengelnik K, Rayner JC, Billker O. Cell.

About the prize

The Medicine Doctor Axel Hirsch Jubilee Fund was established in 1960 by a letter of gift from Dr. Axel Hirsch on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Karolinska Institute. The fund's annual return constitutes a prize "to be awarded by the Faculty of Medicine at Karolinska Institute as a recognition for a scientific article of high value published by a Swedish scientific researcher". The prize money is SEK 60 000.


Oliver Billker
Research fellow, professor